June 17, 2009
If there's a riot in the Chino, California schools next month, blame it on...an accounting error? The state requires that pupils spend at least 54,000 minutes in instructional time each year and no fewer than 180 minutes on any one day. An end-of-year audit discovered that, on 34 days, instructional time at Dickson and Rolling Ridge Elementary Schools lasted only 175 and 170 minutes, respectively, even though both schools had exceeded the total minute requirement. Though the combined minutes lost could be made up with just a few extra days, state law says that any day under 180 minutes doesn't count at all--meaning unless both schools stay open for an additional 34 days, i.e., until July 31, the district could lose $7 million in state funds. What do the kids have to say about this debacle? Sean Cornish, age 10, sums up the general malaise thusly: "They think it's dumb, that they have to go to school for these extra days because some lady messed up." But if we think about this glass as half-full, these students might escape the typical "summer learning loss" of their peers with longer summers, though this seems a lousy way to introduce year-round schooling. Maybe someone should take advantage of this naturally-occurring experiment and find out.
"Chino district's error delays summer break by 34 school days for some students," by Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2009